Thomas Tallis (c. 1505 – 1585) – was an English composer. He used to work in Dover, London, Waltham (Essex) and Canterbury. He was subsequently sent to Court as Gentleman of the Chapel Royal in 1543 where he composed, performed and played the organ. His works reflect the religious turmoil of the Tudor period; the introduction of the Anglican rites during the reign of Henry VIII, their reinforcement during the reign of Edward VI, return of the Catholic values under Queen Mary I and reapplication of Anglican traditions under Elizabeth I.
Thomas Tallis was predominantly composing music to Latin texts until 1559 – the year in which the Sarum Rite was finally abolished by Elizabeth I. And thus, it seems to be appropriate to mention here his masses (without Kýrie, eléison prayer in accordance with the Anglican tradition), chorales, antiphons, responses, and hymns. His subsequent Latin compositions were less ornamental, strictly related to the text itself and resembling motets.
His first anthems which fulfil strict requirements of the Anglican Church were written by Tallis during the reign of Edward VI and later under Queen Elizabeth I.
The composer was famous for his services, which gradually became the source of inspiration for his future followers. He also paved the way for the entire religious traditions of the Anglican liturgy. Numerous pieces written by Thomas Tallis survived as contrafactures. It is worth pointing out that one of Tallis’ most notable and talented students was Thomas Byrd himself.
Thomas Tallis took inspiration from Dutch and English music. His works were meant for four to seven voices, though majority of his pieces was written for five voices. Tallis’ level of mastery is reflected in his responses entitled ‘Spem in Alium’ (circa 1570) written for eight five-voice choirs. It seems that the composer wanted his music to surround the audience from every possible angle. This unusual experiment, corresponding to the masterpieces of the Venetian School, proves that exceptional and innovative pieces of music may be found in places which are not necessarily connected with the major musical establishments.